Metal has a short memory

Phil Anselmo
Phil Anselmo

Phil Anselmo is back. Barely five months ago, he re-re-re-confirmed what a lot of people already knew, which is that he is a cretinous jackass. Last January, Phil Anselmo appeared on stage at the perhaps fittingly named Dimebash and closed out the show with a right-hand salute while yelling, “White power!”

Of course, lots of people got upset, and before the embattled frontman knew what was happening, his impulse control problem was all over the internet. He did what blockheads usually do, which was to initially feign indifference and claim he was kidding. Then some of his festival appearances were canceled – goom, right in the bank account. Anselmo quickly capitulated and posted a moody apology video with an implied parenthetical that he would be laying low for a while.

As mentioned above, he did not even wait half a year to debut his drecky new project, Scour. Allegedly a black metal effort, it features the former Pantera singer front and center on vocals, and so far the metal news outlets are promoting it without much (or any) mention of his embarrassing gaffe.

As a supporter of unilateral free speech, I don’t believe people people should be subjected to endless McCarthy-esque tarring for saying something offensive, joking or not. I feel more strongly about making idiots suffer for acting idiotically, but clearly I’m in the minority on that one for a lot of reasons.

Nevertheless, the cheapest part of this development is that most of the outlets who are welcoming Anselmo back to the field are the same ones that publicized and criticized his behavior in the first place. If we all accept the premise that everything blows over in this age of distraction, then why not just stay quiet until it does, assuming you’re in his corner? Cowards make a living by playing both sides, so it’s likely more a self-serving motivation than anything else.

In the meantime, it looks like Phil may have stayed quiet just long enough for the baleful eye of judgment to turn elsewhere. He still has a legion of fans, many of whom would prefer to think that he really is a racist, rather than just a loudmouthed drug addict who doesn’t know where he is half the time. Scour doesn’t look like more than a novelty effort, so the real litmus test will be watching how well he can get any of his mortgage-paying projects back in the air.

The one thing that can’t be ignored is that if you support Phil Anselmo and his efforts, you’re supporting a guy who is a racist at worst, and a crass turd of a person at best. So, dear reader, the question remains – when should a public figure be forgiven? As soon as we’ve forgotten? Ever? Or will an apology suffice?

Seeing Heavy Metal As Controversy And Counterculture

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Black Metal and the Refusal of Aesthetic Modernity
© Photograph by Larissa Grace

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